I have always been a huge fan of Italian cinema from the 1970s. This period mixed arthouse visuals with a big budget, creating surreal movie giants like Fellini and Antonioni. But for me the most interesting period was the Giallo movement.
Named after the pulpy yellow covers of the detectives novels of the period, Gilallo was a blend of intrigue and bloody gore. With titles like The Black Belly of the Tarantula sowing the seeds of the slasher genre, they are an acquired taste, but have had an influence on many top end filmmakers.
One of my favourites is Il Mouse De Burro. Following a serial killer of the same name who stalks the streets of Rome, haunted by visions of a giant mouse, this film follows many of the tropes of the sub genre. At the same time, it contains amazing visuals, and incredible footage of an Italy forty years old.
Director Piero Popino has only this one credit on IMDB. There isn’t even a birth date for him. But the film is very well accomplished. There are fantastic tracking shots through Rome at night, following the killer and keeping the tension going for the full eighty seven minutes. When the murder kicks off, there are some grisly splatter effects that almost hold up to this day.
The most well known section of the film is the dream sequence. There is a trippy scene where the killer tries to sleep, visions of a giant mouse stalking through the city streets haunts his nightmares. The effect is done with miniatures and lighting, and though the budget squeaks in places, there are creepy visuals abound. I seem to remember them cut into in a dance video from the nineties, and shown on a late night Friday TV show. Sadly the clip wasn’t online for me to put below.
I have thought about them a lot since watching the movie, and I must admit they have haunted my dreams almost constantly. There is something about the way Popino films the shots that turns the city into a warren that takes the term rat race to a whole new level.
All in all, I recommend you give Il Mouse De Burro a watch. It’s a forgotten gem of the genre, and those at all interested in Giallo should check the movie out.
Especially when compared to what came next...